The Wolverine

Hope everyone has enjoyed the beginning of the final month of 2013 (We’re closing in on Oscar season!!!) This week, we’ll look at the latest sequence in the X-Men series, The Wolverine, which just released on DVD. Directed  by James Mangold and starring Hugh Jackman,  it is rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence, some sexuality and language.

The Wolverine continues the saga of one of X-Men’s greatest heroes, Wolverine, as he travels to Japan to say goodbye to a man from his past that he saved during the attack on Japan in Nagasaki during World War II. Wolverine, aka Logan, is struggling with his immortality at this point, and is forced to face the fact that he loses his loves one and continues to survive. However, in Japan, Logan is pushed to the edge emotionally and physically when he faces a enemy who puts his immortality– and his life– at risk.

6 out of 10

As I’ve already established, I’m a fan of superhero movies. A big fan. However, the consistent mediocrity in the X-Men series really kills me. X2 and First Class are the only ones I have been (somewhat) satisfied with. The Wolverine is not any different. It is extremely ‘meh’. There’s really no other way to put it.

To be honest, I’m struggling to write about this, partially because it’s not too memorable. I don’t remember anything specific about this movie except for Hugh Jackman. It felt  separated from the world of X-Men, and even from the world of Wolverine himself. I missed the Easter eggs, the references, everything. I guess part of it is that he’s going by his real name, Logan, instead of Wolverine (unfortunately). X-Men Origins: Wolverine, while mediocre in its own sense, still showcased other mutants, whereas this film had one other… whose name I can’t quite remember (shocker!). I guess this is really a matter of personal preference, but I know I couldn’t have been the only one who was extremely disappointed in this.

None of the other characters were interesting either. The two Japanese girls, Mariko (Tao Okamoto) and Yukio (Rila Fukushima), who traveled with Logan/ Wolverine during the movie would have been fine as filler characters… Which is a bummer considering they were so big in the story. It’s unfortunate this movie didn’t have much of a supporting cast in terms of star power. Again, another matter of personal opinion, but to me superhero films should have star power, just because it’s so much better for audience enjoyment. The previous X-Men movies had famous actors such as Halle Berry, Michael Fassbender, James Marsden, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, and Jennifer Lawrence, along with the aforementioned Jackman. To emphasize, I’m not saying movies without recognizable actors are bad, but The Wolverine definitely might have wanted some more support for Jackman (who does do a great job, by the way).

Hugh Jackman

Hugh Jackman

Overall, the movie lacked a point. This would have been excusable if it was an action movie… but it only had like three fight scenes, one of which was just mundanely executed (final battle scene). Otherwise, it was too generic and predictable to be interesting. Basically, this is how it went:

Boy and girl run away.
They fall for each other.
Girl gets kidnapped.
Boy saves girl, but not before he faces extreme challenges.
Everyone lives happily ever after.

Sounds familiar? Thought so.

Regardless of how memorable it was– or wasn’t– there were a few scenes I did enjoy. The first 15-20 minutes were actually really good. The scene where Wolver– I mean Logan– went crazy on the guys in the bar was really enjoyable. It had the right energy and intensity the rest of the movie needed. However, it all went downhill from there once he went to Japan… Yikes. The rest of the movie didn’t have the same raw emotion and energy we saw from Logan in the opening of the movie, except one other scene; I felt that intensity in the fight scene on the train. That was excellently done and probably my favorite scene in the entire film. To quickly touch upon the graphics and editing, those were really good as well. It’s one of the only things you can confidently expect from a movie of this nature.

Overall, I guess I would label this movie a disappointment. It lacked a point and failed to keep my interest. Of course, X-Men Origins: Wolverine wasn’t much better, so I guess I have my expectations too high. Oh well. I’ll try my best to keep my expectations fair for X-Men: Days of Future Past.

~Vig

5 out of 10

Yeah, here comes the first truly negative review I give. Also, if you don’t know your Marvel franchise history, take a quick look or else this may be confusing:

This week, the trailer for the next  Amazing Spiderman was released. Both Sony and Fox (Who own Spiderman and X-Men respectively) have made it clear that they’re plan of attack is to copy Marvel before Marvel can do anything. It’s no shock. It’s all a side-effect of The Avengers. Hell, Marvel’s copying its own patterns at times.

marvel

I bring this up because, at times, it feels like we’re running the clock. The original series of Marvel films actually eased into each other believably whereas Sony and Fox’s attempts have felt kind of like blocks clumsily placed in order to try and build a coherent universe.

The Wolverine is a perfect model for this. The movies tries with all of its might to build a world around a character who has kind of worn his welcome. It’s tiring to see the same things. Wolverine owns people with his claws…except this time he has no one to work off of.

Does the movie do those repetitive scenes well? Sure. And if you know that its a fairly brainless endeavor, you’ll probably do fine. I, for one, can usually do that. It doesn’t take a lot for me to shut off my brain for an action film. But so much of this is so outright ridiculous that I laughed. I audibly giggled so much that I pity whoever was in front of me in the theatre. (SPOILERS: For example, the robot samurai was just too much).

But the attempts to be a hit Marvel film are bountiful and close together. It feels like a checklist at times:

“We need a post-credits scene ‘cause that’s what Disney did.”

“We need some angst. That’s what all those other Marvel movies did.”

“Let’s try and put some comedy in there. People liked that about The Avengers didn’t they?”

The movie has a great cast. Hugh Jackman is pretty synonymous with Wolverine and I have no complaints about him for the most part. I’m sure it was a daunting task putting your character into a new environment and he keeps Wolverine pretty un-corrupted.

And I’m not going to lie, they’re still able to make some excellent action scenarios. There is a fight on a train which works very well and it’s always easy to follow. The main problem, though, is that I lost investment after a while.At this point, we know what Wolverine is going to do. He’s Wolverine! Isn’t he? It’s just that “Will he get out of this?” point is moving a greater distance away from us.
But I have to be merciful. I have high expectations of hero movies because I have been exposed to so many great ones. This one gets an A for being a popcorn movie but otherwise it’s a placeholder for (Hopefully) better projects to come. The stakes are lowered and taken away.

wolverine on train

As somewhat disappointed I was with this, I’m still very excited for the next X-Men which will have a whole slew of characters that Logan can work off of which is when he’s at his best. Here’s to hoping its not a carbon copy of the Disney stuff though.
~Zach

IMDB: 6.8
Metacritic: 60
Rotten Tomatoes: 69%

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